Hayleigh Mann received her first Connestee Falls scholarship in 2015, when she was a freshman at Brevard College. Now in her junior year, Mann will tell you that that first Connestee scholarship was "seed money." To her, it represented an affirmation of her worth as a student, and it encouraged her to apply for other scholarships, so that she could continue to attend college.
Now that Brevard College has awarded her a third Connestee Falls scholarship and she has applied for and received other scholarship assistance, she is well on her way to completing her college degree and embarking on a teaching career.
With a major in integrated studies of biology and political science, and a plan to finish her course work early so that she can obtain her teaching certificate in time for graduation in 2019, Mann is currently taking an education course, "Twenty-first Century Learner," which requires her to engage in community service. Her current service commitment is volunteering at Davidson River School.
Community service is nothing new for her. She spends her free time doing volunteer work for causes she holds dear. She has worked on campaigns for political candidates and is assisting a candidate now by managing the campaign website and social media platforms.
As she mentored other students while she was studying at Rosman High School, it comes as no surprise that she is a teaching assistant at Brevard College.
She is also a commuter; she lives with her family in Rosman. To keep herself healthy, she rises at 5 a.m., so that she can get some exercise before reporting for her first class at 8 a.m. in Brevard.
In Mann's view, the Connestee Falls scholarship has helped open the world to her. She has taken two trips in conjunction with her biology courses - one on a UNC research vessel out of Morehead City, viewing and studying the creatures she had been learning about in her marine biology class, and another to Costa Rica to study the unique ecosystems of that country. While in Costa Rica, Mann found time to use her fluency in Spanish to engage local women in discussions about the machismo culture and to connect with a woman who had organized a women's support group at her local church.
Mann credits her mother as her role model. It was she who taught her to care for herself, as well as for others.
Mann may have gotten her drive from her mother as well. After her parents divorced, her mother, a cosmetologist, went back to school and obtained her degree in medical office administration. She now works as the office administrator for John White, D.D.S., in Asheville.
While Mann is the first of four siblings to attend a four-year college, she is not the last. Her younger sister and brother have been inspired as well. Her sister is a student at Appalachian State University, and her brother, a high school student, hopes to attend college to study agriculture or publishing. Her older sister is a cosmetologist.
With graduation in her sights in a little over a year, Mann wants to hike the Appalachian Trail during a planned hiatus between graduation and the start of her teaching career or graduate school. She will then seek her first teaching position abroad, so that she can continue to travel and experience other cultures while she engages her passion for teaching "math or science, any age group from second graders to high school."
Mann considers the Connestee Falls scholarships she has received to have been major contributors to the success she has had to date. In her view, "The donors and volunteers of the Scholarship Program join with the students and serve as their partners in the pursuit of excellence."